Construction is a large and complex worldwide industry constantly shaped by new information technologies, advanced materials, environmental policies, regulations and changing building methods. Most importantly, though, construction is shaped by people. Sustaining a strong industry requires attracting and valuing a skilled, career-driven, high quality workforce... who also like to build! How is the construction industry attracting the skilled workforce for future growth market demands? Do prospective candidates see construction as a viable career choice?

I recently visited Pasadena ISD’s Dr. Kirk Lewis Career and Technical High School (CTHS) on a day when a group of high school juniors were receiving hands-on training in drywall installation by professionals from Marek Houston.  I was invited by Saied Alavi, Director of Operations at Marek, to watch as Marek volunteers Terry Holcombe, Buddy Britt, Aurelio Flores, and Rodrick Horn walked the students through each step of installing drywall to several framed “rooms” which had been previously constructed by students in the large workshop for the Construction Technologies program at the school.  I watched students measure the framing, cut the drywall to the required spaces including cutouts for windows and electrical sockets, align the cut drywall, and nail the pieces in place.  Walls and ceilings took shape before our eyes.   Read more » about Drywall Clinic at Technical High School Promotes Careers in Construction: Part 2 [VIDEO]

Creating ongoing solutions for workforce challenges in construction will be an uphill battle, but luckily some of the best minds in the industry have now begun working on it in earnest in the Houston area.

The ABC Board of Directors has instructed its Industrial Committee to figure out, with specificity, what needs to be done to create a sustainable workforce going forward. Last week, the committee continued its work focusing on improving construction’s image and recruiting – not just listing problems, but more importantly, coming up with concrete proposals for the full ABC board to discuss and take action on.    Read more » about ABC Houston Industrial Committee Begins Crafting Recommendations for Workforce Solutions

On April 8th, Construction Citizen had the privilege to attend Texas Construction Career Initiative (TCCI) and Build Your Future’s (BYF) 2015 High School Construction Career Day at the Freeman Coliseum Expo Hall in San Antonio, Texas. Over 1,100 students and chaperones from the San Antonio area and West Texas had the chance to meet with over 50 exhibitors and construction professionals. Exhibitors included craft companies specializing in plumbing, heavy equipment, glass, drywall, and roofing; institutes offering programs in construction such as Texas A&M, Texas State Technical College, and Construction Careers Academy; power tool producers DeWalt and Hilti; and non-profit construction associations such as Hispanic Contractors Association, National Association of Women in Construction, and Air Conditioning Contractors of America San Antonio.    Read more » about TCCI and BYF Host 3rd Annual Construction Career Day

When I was younger, I saw an older man sort of just standing there. Staring. Not at me. Not seemingly at anything. But he looked as if he was very deep in thought. Curious, I asked him what he was thinking about. His answer was very simple and straightforward and has stuck with me forever. Five words, and it applies to literally everything. “What I'm about to do.” I would credit him for the quote, but I don't know this guy. I didn't know him then, and I was a preteen kid. My parents were there, I wasn't afraid to talk to him, but I also didn't want to bother him. So that was our whole conversation. I just said, “Well, okay,” and left him alone. I don't know what it was he was about to do. For all I know, he could have robbed the store as soon as we left. I don't know. That answer though, that answer stayed.    Read more » about Guide to Working Safely in Dangerous Environments

With the skills gap widening and projecting to increase, Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF) will open up a new doorway for veterans to enter a career in construction, providing training for free.

CMEF will be offering a free jumpstart training course for veterans at Camp Hope in the beginning of summer 2015.  This course will provide a Heavy Equipment Operators (HEO) certification.  Director of Education Glen O’Mary said the demand for an equipment operator will make the certification more valuable, making it easier for veterans to begin their career in the construction industry.  O’Mary, a veteran himself, said training in the military is very similar for training on the jobsite.  There are parallels, he described, in the continuation of education and training, safety, procedures, hours and overall work.   Read more » about CMEF to Offer Free Training Course to Veterans at Camp Hope

Over the years, the Construction Citizen team has put a bright spotlight on the myriad problems caused by worker misclassification. Those difficulties continue to mount while Texas lawmakers do very little about it, much to the frustration of ethical companies that cannot compete with cheaters, many single mothers who are denied child support payments, conservative activists upset about illegal immigration, and workers’ rights advocates who believe in a better standard of living for those who toil in the hot Texas sun.

Worker misclassification is one of the major underlying problems when it comes to fixing all those challenges.

If you're unfamiliar, worker misclassification is a fancy term for cheating on payroll. That’s why labor activists call it “payroll fraud.” It happens when a boss pretends their worker is an “independent subcontractor” instead of an employee even when, by law, the person should be on the books as an employee.   Read more » about Cheating by Unethical Employers Reaches Crisis Levels While Texas Lawmakers Sit on Their Hands

Last week a group of construction professionals from Marek once again volunteered their time to instruct high school students in drywall installation at their new state-of-the-art Pasadena Independent School District facility.  Houston area construction firms such as Marek have partnered with Pasadena ISD in the past to enhance the programs offered to students looking for careers in construction.

In past years these workshops occurred at the L.P. Card Career and Technical Center, which was a high school campus where juniors and seniors were enrolled in certain career and technical programs (including construction technology) for half of each school day while remaining enrolled in classes at their home Pasadena ISD campuses for the other half of each day.  Beginning with the current school year, the new Dr. Kirk Lewis Career and Technical High School (CTHS) is now a four-year high school where students who apply and are accepted into these career-oriented programs attend for all four years while completing all requirements for their high school diplomas.   Read more » about Drywall Clinic at Technical High School Promotes Careers in Construction: Part 1

RUS Industrial recently donated more than $150,000 worth of electrical materials to Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF) as a show of support to craft training and electrical education.

According to Vice President Kevin Laird, RUS Industrial chose CMEF for their hefty donation to assist in the development of training programs. This generous donation will expand CMEF’s ability to provide electrical training and certifications.

“The advanced electrical equipment will allow CMEF students access to top-of-the-line training equipment in their craft. With this donation we can begin offering advanced electrical education courses, which is critical in our efforts in training a safe, sustainable workforce,” CMEF Training Manager Blair Williamson said.    Read more » about CMEF Receives Generous Donation of Electrical Equipment for Training Program